Glossary A-B

Here you will find my ‘plain English’ definitions for some of the terms used every day around a production. 

You can navigate to alphabetical sections of the Definitions or scroll through the list of terms. Generally site references to any terms are linked to their Glossary entry on this page. I also link to more “official” sites for any of the truly technical terms.

And return to the Glossary Home page for more helpful External Links.


If you’ve come across a term or an acronym that you aren’t familiar with please let me know by submitting it below. I’ll do my best to get you a definition and an explanation.


Above the Line
Above the Title
Accounting Equation
Accounts Payable
Accrual Basis
Additional Insured
Additional Labor
Aggregate Limit
Animal Wrangler
Annotated Script
Answer Print
Applicable Option Payment
Application Process
Approved Overage
Area Standards Agreement(ASA)
Art Director
Artwork Title
Auditable Premium
Auto Liability


Background Action
Background Actors
Bank Loan
Below the Line
Benefit Contributions
Best Boy
Billing Block
Blocking Rehearsal
Blu Ray
Boom Operator
Boom Pole
Box Office Bonus
Box Rental
Breakdown Sheets
Breaking Down a Script
Bridge Loan
Broker-Tax Credits
Budgeting by Department
Budgeting for Labor
Building Days
Budgeting Weeks



Above the Line:
By definition, for a narrative project this comprises the Story & Screenplay, Cast, Producer, Director and their associated costs including Travel & Living
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Above the Title:
A screen credit or artwork title of a person’s name, generally a major actor, that is placed above or before the title of the film.
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The recording, tracking and reporting of financial data for an individual or company. For more about accounting including definitions and explanations of key terms check out this site.
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Accounting Equation:
Assets = Liabilities + Equity
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Accounts Payable:
The accounting term given to monies owed by an individual or company.
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The accounting term meaning to accumulate earnings or benefits. To accrue vacation and holiday pay means to accumulate it over a period of time without it being paid out. Sums “accrued” are generally referred to as the “accrual”
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Accrual Basis:
An accounting method whereby income and expenses are recorded when they are earned, not when they are physically received. For example, an invoice for services is sent to a client in December. The income is recorded in that calendar year even if it is not received until January. Until such time as it is received it is known as an “Accounts Receivable” item.
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Additional Insured:
An insurance term which means that an individual or entity has been added to an insurance policy as an insured entity and has all of the same rights of coverage as the entity that purchased the policy.
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Additional Labor:
In budgeting generally a reserve for extra labor for a given department. This labor is over and above the normal department’s allotted manpower and is budgeted on a per day basis.
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A labor union for on-camera talent, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists recently merged with the Screen Actors Guild to form SAG-AFTRA
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Aggregate Limit:
The total limit for a particular type of insurance claim within the policy period.
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In budgeting this is a lump sum amount of money set aside to cover a cost without providing specific detail of how the money will be allocated; In accounting, this is a lump sum of money paid to cover an expenditure such as housing or living expenses, which does not require a specific detailed accounting.
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The accounting term for deducting or “writing off” an expenditure over a period of time as opposed to doing it all in one accounting period. For example, the cost of a film is generally amortized over the expected income flow of the project.
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Animal Wrangler:
A crew position in charge of specific animal(s) appearing on camera.
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Annotated Script:
A script with detailed notes regarding the source of each scene – whether it is fact or fiction, whether the characters are based on real persons, etc.
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Answer Print:
In 35mm film post production this is the first print of the film that is struck from the cut negative to determine how the color corrections look on film. There will be adjustments and potentially additional Answer Prints struck.
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Applicable Option Payment:
Under an Option Purchase Agreement, generally for a literary property, these are Option Payments that are applied or deducted from the total purchase price agreed upon for the material.
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Refers to the actual form filed by a production when applying for a tax incentive – either a tax credit or a rebate.
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Application Process:
Refers to the process by which a production applies for a tax incentive – either a tax credit or a rebate; generally requires filling out a form, submitting a budget which indicates an estimate of the production’s qualified spend and provides other specific details required by the particular state.
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Approved Overage:
Generally these are over budget items that are Approved by a project’s financier.
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Area Standards Agreement (ASA):
A contract of the IATSE (International Allliance of Stage & Theatrical Employees) which covers production workers outside of Los Angeles and New York.
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 Art Director:
Crew title for person(s) designing and supervising construction of sets.
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 Artwork Title:
The title of a film or television show which is represented on the Key Art or poster.
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An accounting term for property or things owned by an individual or company.
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In Legal terms, the transfer of legal rights from one person or entity to another.
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A thorough review of an entity’s financial books and records; generally includes verifying the validity of a certain percentage of transactions by tracing them back to their original receipts and/ or contracts
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Auditable Premium:
An insurance premium based on a percentage (or rate) of a specific type of expenditure where an initial Deposit Premium is paid which is subject to a final audit to determine any additional billing or refund required
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Auto Liability:
Insurance coverage which protects holders against claims for damages arising out of automobile accidents
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Background Action
The term called out by an Assistant Director on a set indicating that the background action should begin during a take; always called out in advance of the main “Action” call for principal talent.
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Background Actors
Non-speaking on-camera talent, also referred to as “Extras”.
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In accounting terms this means the underlying supporting documentation. For example, a payment made for a location fee would require a signed location agreement as backup.
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Bank Loan
Borrowing from a financial institution, generally against specific sales contracts which stipulate the price to be paid upon Delivery of a finished product.
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Below the Line
In budgeting, generally all costs not specifically defined as Above-the-Line.
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General name for add-ons to employee compensation in the form of participation in plans covering Pension, Health & Welfare and Vacation & Holiday programs; usually associated with a Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiated by a union.
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Benefit Contributions:
The amounts paid by an employer (and in some cases a portion paid by employee as well) to cover participation in Benefit Programs such as Pension Plans, Health Insurance and other programs.
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Best Boy
The second person in a department- used mostly to refer to the Second Grip or Electrician.
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Billing Block:
The set of titles for a project that appear as a group on artwork, generally the poster.
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Blocking Rehearsal:
A rehearsal for actors to cover their general movement and actions for lighting purposes.
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 Blu Ray:

A specific high quality DVD format created by Sony; requires special playing devices.
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In scheduling, this is the Stripboard color for EXTERIOR NIGHT scenes.
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Boom Operator:
In the Sound Recording department, the person controlling the placement of a microphone mounted on a boom pole.
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Boom Pole:
An extendable pole used to hold a microphone for recording sound.
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Box Office Bonus:
Additional payments based on certain benchmark goals reached in the theatrical box office receipts of a film.
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Box Rental:
Payment of a fee, generally daily or weekly, to a crew member for items they own and rent to a production; may include tools and/or other necessary items
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Breakdown Sheets:
Sheets containing information about a scene that are filled in by an Assistant Director or someone doing a schedule for a project; these are generally computer forms.
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Breaking Down a Script:
The process of reading and interpreting the production requirements of a script, then translating those into a shooting schedule.
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Bridge Loan:
In finance terms, a short term loan needed to continue operations until long-term financing is in place. Often required in order to continue moving production forward while financing is being finalzed; See Gap Financing.
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Broker- Insurance:
In insurance terms, the person who consults with a production and places insurance coverage for the production with an Underwriter in return for a commission.
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Broker- Tax Credits:
With respect to tax credits, a person or company that matches credit sellers and buyers for a fee.
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Budgeting by Department:
The process of budgeting for all of the requirements – Labor and Materials – of a specific department; usually carried out by the Department Head.
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Budgeting for Labor:
The process of budgeting for the entire cost of hiring personnel to work on a production including all statutory and collective bargaining requirements.
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Building Days:
In scheduling, the process of grouping the shooting of various scenes into a single day’s work.
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Building Weeks:
In scheduling, the process of grouping the shooting of various Shooting Days into a week’s work.
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With respect to tax incentives, the ability to join one or more individual productions together in order to meet a particular program’s Minimum Spend requirement.
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